New York City Center’s 75th Anniversary


Every time I talk about the most
thrilling experience of my artistic career, it always starts here. I love New York City Center. I would consider New York City Center to be one of my artistic homes. There’s such a great family atmosphere from the staff to the people backstage. When you walk on the stage of City Center, you know that you’re walking into history. City Center is hallowed ground. It’s one of those rare spaces where you feel like you’ve done it and you’ve made it. I’m just so grateful for everything that City Center has done to create an
opportunity for us to make a work that we really believed in. Hello, I am Abdou. Welcome to New York City Center. 75 years ago, this building was given as a gift to New York. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia had a vision for a performing arts center that was accessible to everyone. To this day, City Center upholds that commitment to keeping the arts
affordable. This is a theater for the people. It’s a place where friends and
family can see a show, share the experience of a live performance, be a
part of history. When I think of New York City Center, I imagine the legacy of
luminaries who have graced the stage: singers like Camilla Williams, Beverly
Sills, and my dear friend Barbara Cook. Standing here on the stage of New York
City Center, this historic, beautiful theater (singing) I feel a song coming on! City Center’s dance history is filled
with edge-of-your-seat performances. As the Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey
American Dance Theater, I’m proud to call City Center our second home. For me, what’s really special is in Fall for Dance, you’re sharing a program with many other companies and many other dancers from around the world and you get to
warm up in the same space together and I’m so in awe of all the other major
dance companies that come in. Over the past 15 years, Fall for Dance has become an institution. I can’t think of any other dance program where people are lined up around the block to see dance. It’s like a Beyonce concert! It’s almost like a
civil right, you know, to come and see the art form. City Center is famous for presenting the world’s greatest dance, music and theater. And with Encores!, all
three of these art forms merge together in a single performance. I made my City Center debut as part of the fourth season of Encores! and it was
my particular honor to star in St. Louis Woman the first musical that
Encores! ever reconstructed from scratch. It’s very rare to be able to
revisit these beautiful shows in a fresh new perspective. It’s unlike any other
experience I’ve had as a performer. It’s a two pronged situation. First prong: terrified. Second prong: it really does force you to just trust yourself. It reminds people that theater can be an event. It’s about did you see that production of… Chicago was unique. There we were in
rehearsal with no time and with the greatest dancers on all of Broadway. Anway, act two comes and it’s Mr. Cellophane And um… *whispers:* It stopped the show. Five years ago, City Center introduced
the theater world to Encores! new sibling series Encores! Off-Center, with an aim to reintroduce edgier shows that pushed creative boundaries when they
originally premiered. Encores! Off-Center tells different stories and
offers a stage for diverse voices to be heard by new audiences. It takes shows that were written for small audiences and it gets to bring them into the
spotlight. You know, it’s awesome. In art, it is crucial to have diverse voices,
you know, people of diverse backgrounds expressing the the tapestry
of experience that we’ve all shared you wouldn’t be able to do that anywhere
other than someplace like Off-Center. When you perform at City Center, there is
something so organic and sort of profound because you have to be in the
moment. There’s no other choice. Being asked to go to the foundation of who you
are as a performer and as an artist and that that is accepted and embraced here.
I don’t know any other place in the world like it. New York City Center Seventy five years And just getting started.

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